Constructing a Custom Suit – Part 1: Fabric
We are kicking off an awesome 4 part series around constructing a custom suit and all the aspects that go into that! This edition focuses on the fabric...
Let’s start with the most common types of cloth for a custom suit and typically the where the majority of the cost of a custom suit comes from.
Wool - most popular fabric due to its versatility and refined aesthetic. Wool breathes well and can be worn both in the heat of the day or the cool of the night. **Note wool is also naturally antimicrobial so self cleans and does not have to be dry cleaned every time you wear it. In fact, unless I spill something on mine I NEVER dry clean.
Cotton – makes for a more casual suit than wool and has a nice light, soft feel. Cotton is great for the summer and offers excellent breathability, but tends to crease easily.
Linen – because it is super lightweight and maintains its coolness in the heat, linen is a very popular summertime fabric. Wrinkles and stains easily. More casual than wool and cotton.
Cashmere - incredibly soft texture, great water resistance, and excellent breathability. Cashmere provides a more luxurious look, but can get expensive.
Silk – usually blended with worsted wool (it’s rare to see a 100% silk suit). Incredibly smooth and delicate and creates a nice sheen to the garment.
Super 120s, Super 130s, Super 150s, etc
I get the “What’s up with the super numbers?” question all the time. These numbers are part of a grading system used to denote the fineness of the wool’s fiber. A higher number means a finer yarn and a softer feel (think bed sheets), but does not necessarily mean that the fabric is of better quality (those mall kiosk or discount stores that sale cheap bedsheets that have a ridiculously high "thread count"). A high number (150s and above) typically feels nicer and drapes the body better and is the pinnacle of custom suiting but always make sure to buy from a pro on this as anything in this range that is legitimate is very expensive and you need to make sure you are with an expert. A lower number suit (Super 110s-140s) makes for a really nice high end elevated custom suit as well!
Like any commodity, fabric also has a tiered pyramid for quality and make (think brand name vs generic). This is super important as the more popular the custom clothing space has become, the more fabric suppliers have appeared. In some ways this is good as it makes the market more accessible (online custom, affordable custom pricing etc...) and I am a believer custom suiting should be available for all, not those that can afford a high end luxury garment. The flip side though is that it makes it a lot harder for the consumer to know the value of what they are getting and why they are paying what they are paying for it as there is a wide range in the market.
The best custom suits are going to be made with fabric from high end mills (most are from Italy or England...but there are others as well). These are the brand name mills and if you are paying more than $1,000 for a custom suit it will likely be a high end mill that the fabric comes from.
Below are some of my personal favorite mills and merchants:
Vitale Barberis Canonico (VBC)
Let us know if you have any questions on the above, we’d be happy to walk you through it.
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